Author: Emma Yasinski

Emma Yasinski

I am a freelance science and medical journalist, fascinated by how the scientific process leads to incredible discoveries, but also can lead to publication bias leaning toward positive findings and minimizing negatives. With a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Lafayette College and a Master’s in Science and Medical Journalism from Boston University, I’ve written about clinical trial transparency, organ donation, and basic molecular biology for publications like The Scientist, The Atlantic, Undark.org, Kaiser Health News, and more. At MedShadow, I research and write about the sometimes unexpected ways that medicines can affect us, and what we can do if and when it does.

MedShadow recently posted an article in which a journalist investigates his own sleep apnea diagnosis and ends up forgoing expensive machinery and learning that sleeping on his side was all it took in his case to keep his oxygen levels stable through the night. In the Kaiser Health News article, author Jay Hancock describes an “expensive testing cascade” including an at-home test and two separate nights in a sleep lab testing for different characteristics of the condition.  Testing is not the only cascade in medicine. In recent years, researchers have started to identify “prescription cascades”—situations in which a patient is…

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It took seven years for Madeline Shonka to be diagnosed with lupus. Unfortunately, her struggles didn’t end there.  The side effects of medications for lupus that her healthcare providers prescribed were often debilitating side effects, such as weight gain, rashes and even difficulty managing anger. Then, over time, her physicians tested different, better-suited treatments on Shonka. She found that certain new habits, like light exercise, made a big difference in her quality of life. She then founded Co-immunity, which hosts support groups for patients with chronic illnesses, so that they can share their experiences. What Is Lupus? Lupus is an…

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A now world-wide outbreak of hepatitis ‘that began in fall 2021 among young children, sickening hundreds, continues nearly eight months later, as of May 2022. The medical community is searching for its cause.  Some researchers believe it may have been triggered by COVID-19 infections or by colds or other viruses. The challenge is that the term hepatitis denotes an inflammation of the liver, but in order to treat it, a doctor needs to know what caused that inflammation. That’s problematic, because a doctor must know the cause to treat it effectively. Here’s what you need to know about the many…

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In the last week of September 2021, a group of more than 90 doctors and researchers published a call to action, cautioning against the liberal use of Tylenol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy. The studies suggested that exposure to the drug could increase the risk of a baby having neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders. The authors added, however, that Tylenol has long been considered one of the few safer options to treat pain in pregnancy, since Advil (ibuprofen) and opioids are considered riskier. They pointed out that, in some cases, a woman’s condition (fever and pain, for example) could be worse for…

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Mother-of-four Kate Leighton, 43, found out she had PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) as a teenager. Although physicians had recommended various treatments, such as oral contraceptives to manage her menstrual cycle and Clomid (clomiphene) for fertility, no one mentioned the role of diet and exercise in PCOS management. She found those strategies by doing her own research. “On my 37th birthday, I went vegan. I lost 50 pounds, and chose the months I wanted to become pregnant. Six months of a vegan diet, and no more cysts,” she says. The goal of managing PCOS is for women to decrease the risk…

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Corticosteroids, also known as glucocorticoids or steroids, aren’t the same as the anabolic steroids athletes misuse. Corticosteroids are used to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases like asthma, allergies, rashes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as many other conditions. Because corticosteroids are so strong, most of them are only available by prescription. While they can be extremely beneficial, steroids can also have serious side effects. It’s a good idea to understand the benefits and risks of corticosteroids and discuss your treatment options with your doctor. Common Names Corticosteroids come in several forms, including: Oral: Capsules, tablets, or…

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Freshly cut grass, a friendly puppy or a dusty rug is all it takes to set off an asthma attack for Olga Cerini. “My asthma is allergy-based,”  says Cerini, who lives in New York City. But she is able to keep her asthma under control, she says, because—in addition to her medications and years of allergy shots—she is careful to avoid these triggers. For example, “In my home, we have no rugs because rugs are a horrible source of dust,” she says.  “We clean frequently with a damp cloth, use either synthetic or cotton bedding, and vacuum the furniture and curtains…

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